Home' HR Monthly : November 2015 Contents CEO MESSAGE
If you didn’t make it to the AHRI national convention
back in August, you will have missed hearing the
chairman of the AHRI board, Peter Wilson, and me.
Together, we opened the convention with a duet.
No, we didn’t sing, but we gave a speech in four
par ts. Our intention in taking that unusual step was to
mark the significance of AHRI’s commitment to setting
a bar for HR practice in Australia.
Peter’s two par ts involved outlining the environment
in which business is now being conducted in the
contemporar y world. It is a stor y in which disruption,
complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty are now
bywords, and a readiness to litigate is axiomatic. In
short, it is an environment that demands significantly
greater professional capabilities and behaviours from
HR practitioners than ever before.
In the second part of his speech Peter told his
personal stor y. It was an account that revealed his
surprise entry into HR when the then ANZ group chief
executive Don Mercer asked him to take over the HR
function at the bank. At the time Peter was a senior
executive in strategic planning and economics, with HR
the fur thest thing from his mind.
But Mercer told Peter that he saw the big
questions that would decide the future
of the bank were centred on its people.
He wanted someone to lift its people
culture, plan for the future workforce,
and mitigate the risks in failing
to manage people well. Mercer
acknowledged Peter’s absence of a
background in HR and sent him to
the US for a fast-track exposure
to high-level HR thinking and
practice, which is where he
first met Dave Ulrich among
other leading HR scholars.
One of the points that
emerged in Peter’s story was
the fact that Mercer did not look
to someone from HR at the
bank to fill the top HR job.
My role in the duet was
to bring to the notice of
delegates the cover of the
Harvard Business Review
that month. To the visual
accompaniment of a bomb with
a lit fuse, the July-August cover
bellowed the following headline: “It’s time to blow up
HR, and build something new”.
To be frank, it was somewhat confronting to see this
headline from such a prestigious source on the eve of
going into a national convention at which many of the
top people in the Australian HR profession were going
to be present.
My options were to ignore it or deal with it, and I
chose the latter. The way I dealt with it was to note
that there were two parts to the Har vard headline:
the first is to put behind us what HR is now doing
or failing to do, and the second is to construct
something new in its place.
Although an optimistic reading of the cover
headline can be inferred from the assumption
that HR is too vital a part of business to get
wrong, the consensus is there is much to
do in order to reaf firm the standing of true
HR business par tners, and to build
the capabilities of those who have
not yet become the HR partner
AHRI understands the urgency
of re-setting the standards bar for
the HR profession, and is doing
something about it.
The decision by the AHRI
board in 2014 to make a major
commitment to HR certification was
the first step towards achieving
that objective for the profession
in Australia. With the vision and
strategy now set, we hope you will
join us in ‘building something new’.
Chief executive officer
How to create continuous
employee engagement is a
hot topic and Finnish star tup
VibeCatch has launched
a new tool for HRM which
solves the common problem
of linking work to actual
business goals. It captures
employee responses to
a weekly sur vey, asking
questions such as “how was
your week?” to test the pulse
of the company. Accenture
and Deloitte are rolling it out
to their of fices worldwide.
“ There’s a generational
shift in these big legacy
corporations away from
conducting laborious annual
sur veys of their workforce, to
adopting a lighter approach
to staff management and
wellbeing,” says Juha
Huttunen, CEO of VibeCatch.
Businesses are failing to train
staff with the skills they will
need in the future, according
to PDTraining. Mobile and
cloud communication will
opportunities that require
greater sensitivity to
and managing virtual teams.
But companies are still
focussed on basic skills such
as computer training. More
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